Each year, the Smittcamp Family Honors College attracts some of the best and brightest from throughout the Central Valley to pursue a higher education at Fresno State. The University honored the 16th class of 43 soon-to-be graduates on April 27 at a banquet that included the students’ families, friends and faculty members who helped them along the way, as well as the generous donors who support the honors college.

“This is the largest and most elaborate annual event that we put together in honor of our students,” said Dr. Saeed Attar, director of the Smittcamp Family Honors College at Fresno State. “It is also the most important event since its purpose is to celebrate the accomplishments and achievements of our graduating scholars at the culmination of four years of hard work, and to give accolades to those who have helped them reach this important milestone in their lives.

“It is also a chance for faculty, staff and members of the administration to get to know our scholars’ families and to showcase the Smittcamp Family Honors College experience to everyone.”

The Honors College was established in 1998 with a $1 million gift from the late Earl and Muriel Smittcamp and their family, a prominent agribusiness family and longtime supporters of Fresno State.

The ongoing collective support of other donors has also played a significant role in the continued success of the Honors College.

Applicants to the Smittcamp Family Honors College must score 1800 or above on the SAT (or 27 or above on the ACT), be in the upper 10 percent of their graduating class or have a minimum 3.8 GPA in college-preparation classes.

Fresno State President Joseph I. Castro said many of this year’s graduates will go directly to work in finance, nursing, accounting, engineering and other occupations. Some plan to pursue teaching credentials or attend medical or law school. And several have been accepted into master’s or doctoral programs.

This year’s class includes Blake Zante, who served as president of Associated Students, Inc. for the past year. Following graduation, Zante will serve as a Maddy Institute Legislative Scholar in Washington, D.C. in the office of Congressman Devin Nunes. He plans to run for public office in the Fresno area in the future.

Each scholar received an annual President’s Honors Scholarship for their undergraduate degree program up to a maximum of eight semesters. Scholarships cover in-state registration and an optional credit for University housing.

The Smittcamp Family Honors College is unique in the California State University system. President’s Scholars are admitted as a cohort, take a series of specially designed honors courses, participate in a weekly colloquium with guest speakers and interact in educational, scholarly and social activities.

In addition, each President’s Scholar is required to volunteer a minimum of 70 hours of community service through his or her junior year. To remain in the program, a student must enroll in at least 12 units and earn a minimum of 3.25 GPA in their first and second years, and a minimum of a 3.5 GPA in their third and fourth years.

Over 90 percent of the scholars graduate in four years, mostly with summa cum laude (3.9-plus GPA) or magna cum laude (3.7+ GPA) distinctions. This year’s graduating class includes 19 who will graduate summa cum laude, 15 magna cum laude and four cum laude.